Frequently Asked Questions

All ESL Programs - Assessment and Course Placement Testing - Contact Us

What is the basic eligibility for applying to the ESL Program at UMass Boston?

You are eligible to apply for admission to the program if you have completed the equivalent of an American secondary school education or if you have reached at least 17 years of age. You do not need a TOEFL score to enter this program.

How can I apply for the program?

On each program page, there is an application link where you can download the proper form.

What do I need to include with the application?

You must submit the completed application, full payment, and a bank statement or letter certifying that you (or your sponsor) have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during your period of study. Once the application is received and processed, UMass Boston will issue you an I-20.

What is the I-20 form?

The full name of the I-20 form is "The Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-for Academic and Language Students, INS Form I-20 A-B." It is an official government document that will be sent to you with your acceptance letter. The I-20 form is not a visa. It is, however, the most important document needed to apply for a student (F-1) visa. Once you have this form, you should go to the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate nearest you with your passport and proof of financial support (bank statements, etc.). U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world have certain processes and requirements for applying for visas. Please contact them directly before your office visit.

What is an F-1 visa?

Everyone who enters the U.S. is given an immigration status. For students enrolling in our ESL program this is an F-1 visa status. This status is noted at the U.S. Port of Entry on the Form I-94. Students with F-1 status are governed by regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For more information, please visit the USCIS website.

When can I enter the U.S. after obtaining my F-1 visa?

You may enter the U.S. no sooner than 30 days prior to the start date on your I-20.

Can I bring my spouse and/or dependent children with me?

Yes, but an additional $1,000 per person, per semester must be included in your financial statement.

When is the deadline to submit my application?

Although there is not a specific application deadline, international students are encouraged to begin the application process at least 2 to 3 months before their expected date of enrollment. Students must allow ample time for the admissions process, mailing of the I-20, and for the F-1 student visa application through the proper U.S. embassy or consulate.

I already have an I-20 from another school I have attended in the U.S. May I continue to use this I-20, or do I need to get a new one?

If you’re in the U.S. and are transferring to UMass from another school, you must submit the transfer report (p. 4 of application) to your present school. Once we receive the transfer report along with your completed application and you have been released to UMass by your previous school, we will issue you a new I-20.

Can a person who is here as a visitor (not on a student visa) attend the program?

No. International students enrolling in this program must have student visa status.

Do I qualify for the U.S. government's federal financial aid if I am an international student?

No. F-1 students must submit documentation proving that they have the financial support to pay their tuition and do not qualify for the federal financial aid program.

Can I work while I am attending UMass Boston?

You may work on campus with proper authorization. F-1 student visa holders may work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. However, you should keep in mind that work opportunities are very limited and should not be factored into your budget. Off campus employment is not an option.

Does the university have on-campus housing?

The university does not have dormitories or any on-campus housing, but does have a Office of Student Housing to assist students in finding off-campus housing. The service offers listing of apartments and houses to rent or share, as well as home-stay and short term accommodations. They can be reached directly by phone at 617.287.6011, fax 617.287.6335, or at their website.

How do I know which is the right class for me?

To ensure that students are placed in appropriate courses and levels, they must attend an assessment session. The session consists of several types of tests: grammar, listening and reading comprehension, and a writing sample. There is also an interview with a program instructor.

For evening programs, the assessment session is completed at the first scheduled class meeting. For full-time programs, the assessment process is more comprehensive. Tests are completed over the first few days of the semester, and take place in conjunction with a variety of classroom and orientation activities. Formal classes begin only after the orientation period. »See Placement Testing Schedule

Do you offer health insurance?

The program fee provides for participant use of University Health Services. However, this is not a health insurance plan. In general, medical services in the U.S. are very expensive. You and any dependents in this country should be covered by health insurance in case of an accident or serious illness which may require hospitalization or a specialist's care. If you do not have your own private insurance, you are eligible to purchase the university's Health Insurance Plan upon your arrival at the university.

What is your refund policy?

Refunds will be granted to registered students who withdraw from English Language Study programs on the following basis:

Immunization Requirements

For requirements, please visit the University Health Services website:
» Immunization Requirements